Florida Sheriff Bans His Deputies And Visitors From Wearing Masks At Work

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods
Gerardo Mora/Getty

Daily deaths from COVID-19 are setting records in Marion County, Florida, where the sheriff is trying to ban people from wearing masks

One of the most insane things to happen during the coronavirus pandemic is the politicization of face masks. Let’s get one thing clear: Scientists across the U.S. and around the world are in agreement that there is clear and continuously mounting evidence that masks are effective in helping stop the spread of COVID-19. Yet in the U.S., large swaths of the population see wearing them as some sort of infringement of their personal rights. And in Marion County, Florida, the sheriff is going a step further: He’s trying to actively ban people from wearing face coverings in his office and while on duty.

In an email dated Aug. 11, Sheriff Billy Woods wrote, “my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn.”

Woods added that visitors to the Sheriff’s Office would also be banned from wearing masks, writing, “effective immediately, any individual walking in to any one of our lobbies (which includes the main office and all district offices) that is wearing a mask will be asked to remove it. In light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby.”

Woods did make some exceptions to his policy. People who work in the county jail, those suspected to be infected with COVID-19, and those at high risk for complications are allowed to keep wearing their masks. Honestly, it makes this even worse, because it shows that Woods understands the science — he knows that face coverings can be beneficial in crowded workplaces, when people are sick, and to prevent more people from getting sick. He just apparently doesn’t care.

Even if officers go into stores or businesses where masks are required, Woods has told them to refuse.

Woods’ email said they should “politely and professionally tell them I am not required to wear a mask nor will I, per the Order of the Sheriff. From that point on it will be my burden and responsibility to take care of the person and answer their problem, complaint or their question.”

Florida remains one of the worst virus hotspots in the United States, and Marion County set a single-day record on Tuesday for the most deaths it has recorded from COVID-19.

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